pray-, preca-

(Latin: to ask, to entreat; ask earnestly, entreaty, beg; request, petition, pray, prayer)

praying mantis (s) (noun); praying mantises, praying mantes (pl)
1. An insect of the order Mantodea, named for their "prayer-like" stance and so meaning "praying prophet" or "praying diviner".
2. Etymology: mantis comes from the Greek word Mantes for "prophet" or "fortune teller".

It is estimated that there are about 2,300 species of praying mantids world-wide; most are tropical or subtropical, but several species live in temperate climates; such as, that of the northern United States, central Europe, and Siberia.

Some texts refer to the European mantis, or Mantis religiosa, as the most common praying mantis in European countries.

precarious (adjective), more precarious, most precarious
1. Relating to the will or pleasure of another person; held by courtesy; liable to be changed or lost at the pleasure of another: The workers had precarious privileges provided by their company which could be altered or terminated at any time.
2. Referring to a doubtful tenure; depending on unknown causes or events; exposed to constant risk; not to be depended on for certainty or stability; uncertain: Gisela was in a precarious state of health, not knowing if her blood results were going to improve or not.

Some of the stock investors had precarious fortunes which could be lost the next day!

Steve's cousin made a precarious living by gambling, hoping and believing that he would win the big jackpot at sometime!

3. Dangerously unstable, unsteady, uncertain, or insecure: The strong winds almost knocked Brian off his precarious position on the edge of the cliff.
4. Etymology: from 1646, a legal word, "held through the favor of another"; from Latin precarius, "obtained by asking or praying"; from prex, precis, "entreaty, prayer".

The notion of "dependent on the will of another" led to the sense of "risky, dangerous, uncertain" from about 1687.

Depending on the will of another person.
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Perilous or risky circumstances.
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An uncertain and insecure situation.
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precariously (adverb), more precariously, most precariously
Referring to not being safe or secure: The vase of flowers was put precariously close to the edge of the table and as a result, it fell on the floor and broke into pieces.
precariousness (s) (noun) (no plural)
An insecure or dangerous situation: The precariousness of climbing the mountain was intensified for the group of climbers when the thunder storm started.